“Training, Not Trying” – Leadership Lesson

“Training, Not Trying” – Leadership Lesson

Sometimes videos capture exactly what you want to communicate: This is one of those videos – As you will see it’s not really about Leadership – yet I could spend several weeks focusing on some of the take away lines for what I am trying to accomplish in Iron Leadership.

  • Wolves caused a “Trophic Cascade”: (Love that Phrase) Introducing something at the top of the food chain which creates change all the way through the food chain, all the way to the bottom.
  • Wolves kill various species but that gives life to many others.
  • Wolves had been absent for 70 years…the park was deteriorating
  • Wolves changed the behavior of the deer….deer changed their patterns, the park began to regenerate, growth was remarkable!
  • Wolves were introduced – small in number – yet transformed not just the ecosystem but also its physical geography, Wolves changed the Rivers!  —- “Trophic Cascade” – nothing was unaffected!

The introduction of just a few wolves changed a massive amount of Landscape. This is my hope for Iron Leadership —- Introducing just a few men can create a “Trophic Cascade”. These men will have to kill things but their leadership will give life to many others. Their leadership will effect patterns of behavior in others, it will have an effect all the way down the food chain and has the potential to transform an entire ecosystem and physical geography.   — That’s the power and the Goal of Biblical Leadership. Nothing is more needed in our culture as it fly’s itself into the ground.

We started out in September with this picture and quote from Joe Frazier.


“You can map out a fight plan or a life plan, but when the action starts, it may not go the way you planned, and you’re down to your reflexes – that means your preparation. That’s where your roadwork shows. If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, well you’re going to get found out now, under the bright lights of the ring.” – Joe Fraizer

Frazier knocked down the greatest boxer in the world. How do you knock down your greatest opponent?

Question: As a leader or potential leader: What is your greatest opponent – what is it that needs to be “killed, put to death?” (It’s not Donald or Hilary – it’s not your boss or Social Media) Col 3:5-6 – “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” As a leader, these are the things that must be killed. If they aren’t, there is NO CHANCE for “Trophic Cascade” — And how do you put these things to death? By road work in the dark of the morning…BY TRAINING, NOT TRYING.

Dallas Willard: “Think of certain young man who idolizes an outstanding baseball player. They want nothing so much as to pitch or run or hit as well as their idol. So what do they do? When they are playing in a baseball game, they try to behave exactly as their favorite baseball star….they try everything their idol does, hoping to be like him—they buy the same shoes, glove & bat. Will they succeed in performing like the star? We all know the answer. We know they won’t succeed if all they do is try to be like him in the game— We understand why. The star performer himself didn’t achieve his excellence by Trying to behave in a certain way only during the game. Instead, he chose an overall life of preparation of mind and body. This Training provides a foundation in the body’s automatic responses for his efforts during the game. The amazing timing and strength of the athlete aren’t produced and maintained by the short hours of the game itself. Their skills are available to them for those short and important hours of the game because of a daily regimen no one sees.”

Moses’ training, Moses “road work” happened over the course of 40 years in the desert. Recall – Moses tried to do lead, tried to rescue a nation… by himself, by doing it his way (READ Exodus 2:11-15) — Moses severely miscalculated his own ability & severely miscalculated the response by the people he is trying to rescue.

  • He can’t defeat Egypt by killing one soldier at a time and burying them in the sand.
  • The people had no respect for Moses and had no plan on following him.

Hebrews 11:24-26 – “When Moses had grown up, (40 years in the desert – Moses was 80!) he refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose instead to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”

Moses leadership began by putting things to death, by killing things: Power, Pleasure, and Treasure.

Power (By the World’s Definition)

Moses “refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” He said no to earthly popularity and riches for the sake of leading his people.


Moses said “no” to pleasures of sin. “He chose instead to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.”


Moses said “no” to treasures (money). “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”

Consider how much better of a leader you would be if you were completely free to say “NO” to Power – Pleasure and Treasure.

Jesus – like Moses, learned to say no in his 40 days in the desert.

  • Power – he refused to throw himself off the Temple to show off his power to the public, as Satan suggested.
  • Pleasure – He refused to turn the stones into bread to feed his flesh.
  • Treasure – Satan promised Jesus all the treasure in the world if he worshiped him. Jesus said no.

When Moses emerged from the desert, he was ready to lead! Moses’ leadership was going to cause a “Trophic Cascade”. Moses unqualified commitment to God, “transformed not just the ecosystem but also its physical geography.”

  • The Hebrews became a nation: Israel, which lead to a King (David), which ultimately lead to Jesus.
  • Moses delivered the Word of God: 10 commandments – Jesus was the Word.
  • Moses developed the Tabernacle: God with Us! – Jesus was the ultimate “God with us”.

Now I am not suggesting that we can all be Moses, but we can all be leaders with an unqualified commitment to God.

It was the great evangelist DL Moody who is quoted as saying: “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”

  1. Do you really want to be a Leader – Do you aim to be “a man fully  consecrated to God” – Do you want to be a part of a “Trophic Cascade”     which changes the landscape of our community? (or) Honestly, would you rather follow? Why?
  2. The first step in Leadership is “putting things to death” in your own life.This will require “Training not Trying” – It will require “road work in the dark of the morning” – What one piece of spiritual training do you need to work on this summer? Why is that one most important to you?
  3. Power, Pleasure, Treasure: What’s most difficult for you to say “No” to? Why?

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church

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